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War And Peace 487


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him by his shoulders and legs, but he moaned piteously and, exchanging looks, they set him down again. "Pick him up, lift him, its all the same!" cried someone. They again took him by the shoulders and laid him on the stretcher. "Ah, God! My God! What is it? The stomach? That means death! My God!"--voices among the officers were heard saying. "It flew a hairs breadth past my ear," said the adjutant. The peasants, adjusting the stretcher to their shoulders, started hurriedly along the path they had trodden down, to the dressing station. "Keep in step! Ah... those peasants!" shouted an officer, seizing by their shoulders and checking the peasants, who were walking unevenly and jolting the stretcher. "Get into step, Fedor... I say, Fedor!" said the foremost peasant. "Now thats right!" said the one behind joyfully, when he had got into step. "Your excellency! Eh, Prince!" said the trembling voice of Timokhin, who had run up and was looking down on the stretcher. Prince Andrew opened his eyes and looked up at the speaker from the stretcher into which his head had sunk deep and again his eyelids drooped. The militiamen carried Prince Andrew to the dressing station by the wood, where wagons were stationed. The dressing station consisted of three tents with flaps turned back, pitched at the edge of a birch wood. In the wood, wagons and horses were standing. The horses were eating oats from their movable troughs and sparrows flew down and pecked the grains that fell. Some crows, scenting blood, flew among the birch trees cawing impatiently. Around the tents, over more than five acres, bloodstained men in various garbs stood, sat, or lay. Around the wounded stood crowds of soldier stretcher-bearers with dismal and attentive faces, whom the officers keeping order tried in vain to drive from the spot. Disregarding the officers orders, the soldiers stood leaning against their stretchers and gazing intently, as if trying to comprehend the difficult problem of what was taking place before them. From the tents came now loud angry cries and now plaintive groans. Occasionally dressers ran out to fetch water, or to point out those who were to be brought in next. The wounded men awaiting their turn outside the tents groaned, sighed, wept, screamed, swore, or asked for vodka. Some were delirious. Prince Andrews bearers, stepping over the wounded who had not yet been bandaged, took him, as a regimental commander, close up to one of the tents and there stopped, awaiting instructions. Prince Andrew opened his eyes and for a long time could not make out what was going on around him. He remembered the meadow, the wormwood, the field, the whirling black ball, and his sudden rush of passionate love of life. Two steps from him, leaning against a branch and talking loudly and attracting general attention, stood a tall, handsome, black-haired noncommissioned officer with a bandaged head. He had been wounded in the head and leg by bullets. Around him, eagerly listening to his talk, a crowd of wounded and stretcher-bearers was gathered. "We kicked him out from there so that he chucked everything, we grabbed the King himself!" cried he, looking around him with eyes that glittered with fever. "If only reserves had come up just then, lads, there wouldnt have been nothing left of him! I tell you surely..." Like all the others near the speaker, Prince Andrew looked at him with shining eyes and experienced a sense of comfort. "But isnt it all the same now?" thought he. "And what will be there, and what has there been here? Why was I so reluctant to part with life? There was something in this life I did not and do not understand." CHAPTER XXXVII One of the doctors came out of the tent in a bloodstained apron, holding a cigar between the thumb and little finger of one of his small bloodstained hands, so as not to smear it. He raised his head and looked about him, but above the level of the wounded men. He evidently wanted a little respite. After turning his head from right to left for some time, he sighed and looked down. "All right, immediately," he replied to a dresser who pointed Prince Andrew out to him, and he told them to carry him into the tent. Murmurs arose among the wounded who were waiting. "It seems that even in the next world only the gentry are to have a chance!" remarked one. Prince Andrew was carried in and laid on a table that had only just been cleared and which a dresser was washing down.

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